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How to Craft Compelling Website Copy – Audience Research

Why bother to do audience research?

If you’ve been in business for a while, I’m pretty sure that 

a) you will have a website

c) you keep hearing that your copy should ‘speak to your ideal client’ – using words that relate to them.

In other words, your website copy should do the job of solving a problem whilst sounding natural and engaging.

As if you’re having a chat over a coffee.

Your website copy should sound natural and engaging

Knowing whom you are writing for and what to write is your starting point for success.

If you send out the wrong message in your copy, it’s likely to leave your reader confused and clicking away to a competitor who shows in their words and phrases that they understand their client and their struggles

So, how can you get into the hearts and minds of your ideal client? 

Powerful audience research will give you a head start on what and how to write.

I use the word powerful here because trust me – the nuggets of gold that you get from your audience research put the power and persuasion into your copy to get it to kickstart conversations, engage and convert.

Early memories of audience research – a little bit of fun

Let me give you an example of perhaps some of your earliest days of audience research to get a ‘result’.

Let your mind wander back to high school.  

When you were in your girl gang and boy, did you have eyes for the Captain of the Rugby team from the boys’ school across the other side of town?

Maybe it was some bad boy from the youth club?

Anyway, whoever it was…

The thing is, you have to get to know him first – just like getting to know your ideal target client.

What do you do?

Early memories of audience research

You quietly ask around about him (early days of audience research -pre mobiles, computers, any kind of technology!), getting snippets of information so that when you did engineer the opportunity to chat, you had things in common to talk about.

No matter if you didn’t like rugby, football or bands that he did, you made sure that you had sufficient ‘chat’ to chat – to connect and engage with one another.

And so started a beautiful relationship.

This is why a good copywriter will spend a lot of time, oh say 80% of their time, researching, researching and researching – before writing your copy.

And, if hiring a copywriter to write your website copy is not on the cards for you right now, here’s how you do your audience research, step by step.

Let’s start by looking at ways to gather this vital information and the specific job it has to do

Face-to-face interviews

In all cases, the purpose of this is to find out the following information.

I actually enjoy conducting face-to-face interviews as the information you get is pure gold.  But then I like to watch body language as much as anything – that’s just me.

Treat this as an informal and valuable conversation between you and a past or present client where first-hand, you will get a wealth of words that you can use on your website to show how much you understand your ideal customer’s pains, problems and desires.

  • What is it that your client was/is struggling with before deciding to work with you?
  • What made them decide to work with you?
  • How have you managed to solve their problem – or in the process of it?
  • What hesitations might they have had before signing up for your service?
  • How aware were they of their problem before choosing to work with you?  This might sound strange, but it could be that they were not fully aware of the extent of their issues.  It may be they began to work with you for one particular reason, which opened up other required support areas.
  • What makes you different and differentiates you from your competitor?
  • What has been their success with you – their raving fan moment?

Tips for carrying out face-to-face interviews

  1. Keep your questions to no more than 12.   This should be plenty to get the information you need; your audience’s time is precious.
  2. Watch your time, it’s easy to get carried away, and you have work to do after it has finished.  I recommend it takes no more than 30 minutes.
  3. Ask if it’s ok to record it, as you may need to refer back when typing up the transcript.
  4. Or, you could use a tool such as https://otter.ai/ to transcribe your meeting for speed if you do it online.  This handy tool integrates with Zoom, Google and Microsoft and will save you time, therefore, money.

3.  An online poll

This is a less formal approach but a simple way to get information with fewer questions over social media platforms.

Tip for carrying out an online poll

Keep it short and sweet to enable your respondent to answer in just a few seconds.  You could always split the questions over different posts if you want more information.

3.  Review mining

If you haven’t worked with many clients or simply don’t have the time or inclination to go the route of interviews or surveys, it is possible to do what’s called review mining.

Hands up, I love Amazon for this.  But depending on your business, there are other places to search.  I have scoured all of these listed before and found great information.

  • Trustpilot
  • Google Business Profile
  • Tripadvisor

Back to Amazon.

Say you’re a coach; how about an anxiety coach for teenagers?

What search term would a parent use when looking for help?

  • Support for my anxious teenager?
  • Help my teenager with anxiety?

A variety of books will come up, all offering different solutions for helping a teenager with anxiety.

The next step is to go through the reviews looking for words, phrases, emotions, or anything that can help you write your copy for your audience.

Tips for carrying out review mining

  • Take an objective look at all the reviews for balance.
  • Be warned; you can spend hours doing this.  Give yourself 30 seconds to search for the information you need, problems, and solutions; just as with the other methods I have described, record and move on.

4.  Competitor Testimonials

Competitor testimonials can be a great source of information.

You can get helpful insights into your competitor’s customers’ pain points and struggles, what has worked, how they feel, and any hesitation to buy their service.

5. Social Media

Another great place to find out more about your target clients’ struggles.

When I’m writing my own copy, I go to groups that I’m in (Facebook), and put in a search term e.g. copywriting.  As I am writing this, I went to a new group, and I wasn’t disappointed – I have some new ideas of content to create for struggling DIY copywriters.

Again, take a look at your competitors’ social media pages for further information that you can use to create compelling copy in the words of your ideal client.

 6. Online forums e.g. Reddit

Another absolutely brilliant place to gather information.

Put in your keywords and stand back as the comments come up.

Again, you can fall down a rabbit hole on this one, so keep it short and sweet as you spot similar words and phrases that keep popping up, giving you insights into the minds of your target client.

What questions?

Questions to ask when carrying out audience research

Now we have looked at ways to carry out your audience research and the information you are seeking, I want to come back to questions.

Here are some example questions for you to use based on research for a copywriting project for a website.

I tend to start with some engagement/connection questions, such as

  • How do you like to start your day?
  • What are you watching on Netflix at the moment?

Then delve into the more meaty stuff.

  • What problem does our product/service solve for you?
  • What have you already tried to solve this challenge?
  • What made you choose us over a competitor?
  • How did you find out about us?
  • What alternative service/products did you use before working with them?
  • What would be the perfect fix to your struggle/problem/pain?
  • How would that feel?
  • What would it change for you?

Please remember your questions will vary depending on the reason for your research and the goals you have set.

A tip for setting your questions

Don’t ask yes or no questions, you want detail.  

Also, avoid, ‘why’ questions – it’s almost like you are putting people on the spot and may seem judgemental.

Be prepared to take several attempts to fine-tune the questions that get results and if necessary to dig a little deeper with other questions once you get started.  You may need further clarification or sense an opportunity to get further valuable information on your ideal client’s struggles.

Saying Thank You

It’s good to say Thank You

When people give up their valuable time to help, I like to say, ‘Thank You’.

What can you give by way of appreciation?

After all, you’re getting amazing insights into your clients’ headspace to be able to write cracking copy.

Some ideas

  • If you’re a coach or mentor – how about a free 30-minute session for your face-to-face interviewees?
  • As a ‘thank you’ for taking a survey – it could be a free ebook.
  • Perhaps a video – meditation, ways to deal with anxiety, whatever you think would be useful to your interviewees.

Use the research to write your own compelling website copy

Simple analysis of your research findings

Having gone through the process, what do you do next?

I create a very simple table with sections to write my findings in that relate to the questions.

As a reminder, your headings will be…

  • Struggle
  • Fix
  • Hesitations
  • State of Awareness
  • Differentiators – what makes you different
  • Success – the light bulb moment, thanks to you

Use these nuggets of copy gold to write your persuasive,  captivating copy.  

Not just on your website but wherever you need words to engage and move your reader to take action, from your social media to sales pages.

If you only do one thing…

If I had to choose just one method to give me the best return on my time?


Without a doubt, it would be face-to-face interviews.

You are getting ‘exact’ words and phrases, straight from the customer’s mouth to DIY your own copy, plus a first-hand account of the stepping stones taken to working with you i.e. their customer journey.

What a return on your time!

If you’re still reading, and I hope so, I have one more thing to help you to DIY your own irresistible website copy.

Claim your free, on-demand Copy Companion, my 99 Hints and Tips to make writing your own website SO much easier.

Claim it here https://tinyurl.com/DIYCopy

Your On-Demand Copy Companion – 99 Hints & Tips

And finally, before I go, I would like to credit Jennifer Havice of (Messaging Strategist and Growth Marketer), of https://makementionmedia.com/, who has been my inspiration in the world of Brand Messaging with her book Finding the Right Message, available on Amazon.

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